2008 Massachusetts train collision

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2008 Massachusetts train collision
2008 Green Line wreck.png
Wreckage of Green Line car #3667 after the accident.
DateMay 28, 2008
Time5:51 pm
LocationNewton, Massachusetts
LineGreen Line "D" Branch
OperatorMassachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
Incident typeCollision
CauseMicro-sleep episode caused by sleep apnea[1]
List of rail accidents in 2008

The 2008 Massachusetts train collision occurred on May 28, 2008, shortly before 6pm, when two westbound MBTA trains collided on the Green Line "D" Branch between Woodland and Waban stations, behind 56 Dorset Road in Newton, Massachusetts.[2] An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) originally found the cause of the accident to be due to the operator texting while driving,[dubious ] but the NTSB later found that the operator of the rear train, Terrese Edmonds, had not been using her cell phone at the time of the crash, but rather went into an episode of micro-sleep, causing her to lose awareness of her surroundings and miss potential hazards up ahead. The collision killed Edmonds, and numerous others were injured.[2] Fourteen passengers were taken to area hospitals; one was airlifted.[3] This crash, along with another similar accident a year later, led the NTSB to set higher standards and regulations regarding the use of cell phones while operating a train.


The Green Line is a light rail system run by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) in the Boston, Massachusetts, metropolitan area. It is the oldest subway line in the United States. The Green Line splits into multiple branches; the "D" Branch is a grade-separated, dual track line operating from a terminal station at Riverside to Kenmore station, where the "D" Branch merges with the other Green Line branches and operates on shared tracks into downtown Boston. The "D" Branch" uses block signaling between Waban and Woodland stations; operating rules require that Green Line trains encountering a single red signal to hold for 1 minute, then proceed at no more than 10 miles per hour past the red signal while being prepared to stop short of any train or other obstruction.[1]:3


The 2008 Massachusetts train collision occurred on the westbound track between Waban and Woodland stations. Trains 3667 and 3681 were both Green Line trains operating in the westbound direction on the "D" Branch at the time of the accident.[a] At approximately 5:50PM, Train 3681 departed Waban station, and passed signal H-64. Signal H-64 changed to display a single red aspect, to indicate that Train 3681 was directly ahead of it.[1]:4 Train 3681 then encountered a single red signal at H-66, and came to a stop. Per operating rules, Train 3681 held at signal H-66 for 1 minute, then began to operate past H-66 at a restricted speed, reaching a speed of 3.4 mph at the time of the accident.[1]:4

Train 3667 departed Waban station westbound behind Train 3681. Although the red signal at H-64 required Train 3667 to stop and hold for 1 minute, an MBTA employee on the rear of Train 3667 told the NTSB that the train never slowed down after departing Waban, and instead accelerated to the maximum authorized speed of 40 mph.[1]:4 Travelling at a speed of 38 mph, Train 3667 crashed into the rear of Train 3681.[1]:4 The front of the lead car of Train 3681 suffered extensive damage, crushing the operating cab.[1]:4 The operator of Train 3667, Terrese Edmonds, suffered blunt force trauma during the collision and was killed; 8 passengers were injured.[1]:6


Initially, operator error was blamed for the crash.[4] As the investigation began, the crash was suspected to be caused by distraction of Edmonds, who allegedly was using a cell phone while operating the train.[5] However, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) ruled out distraction after it obtained Edmonds' cell phone records and determined that her cell phone was not in use at the time of the crash.[1]:9 Investigators also found that the brakes had not been applied, and the tracks were not faulty.[6]

The NTSB determined that an episode of micro-sleep caused by sleep apnea was likely the reason for the operator losing awareness of her environment.[1]:25 Edmonds was a relatively inexperienced operator who had tried for several years to get the job and was happy to have received it. The qualifications for the job included a high school diploma, a valid driver's license, a background check, and seven weeks of training.[7][not in citation given]


In 2009, the NTSB released its final report on the crash.[1] About a year later, another crash on the same route was blamed on an operator texting while driving.[8]

See also[edit]

Other similar accidents[edit]


  1. ^ Each train consisted of two coupled Kinki Sharyo type 7 light rail cars.[1]:14 The NTSB's final report refers to each train by the number of its lead car (3667 and 3681 respectively), and the same convention is used for this article.[1]:2


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Collision Between Two Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Green Line Trains, Newton, Massachusetts, May 28, 2008" (PDF). National Transportation Safety Board. July 14, 2009. NTSB/RAR-09/02. Retrieved September 16, 2017.
  2. ^ a b Noah Bierman; Ralph Ranalli; James Vaznis (May 29, 2008). "Trolley operator dies after collision in Newton". Boston Globe. Retrieved May 29, 2008.
  3. ^ Marie Szaniszlo; Casey Ross (May 28, 2008). "Several hurt as 2 T trains collide in Newton". Boston Herald. Retrieved May 29, 2008.
  4. ^ "Driver Trapped in US Train Crash". Daily Express. May 29, 2008. Retrieved September 16, 2017.
  5. ^ "Officials swarm T crash scene". The Boston Globe. May 30, 2008. Retrieved September 16, 2017.
  6. ^ "Brakes not utilized in train crash, NTSB says". The Boston Globe. May 31, 2008. Retrieved September 16, 2017.
  7. ^ http://www.foxnews.com/wires/2008May29/0,4670,TrainWrecks,00.html Signals, cell phone focuses of Boston train crash
  8. ^ "Final analysis of '08 Green Line crash due Tuesday". The Boston Globe. July 13, 2009.

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the National Transportation Safety Board.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°19′44″N 71°14′07″W / 42.3288°N 71.2353°W / 42.3288; -71.2353